Interview on The Second Time Around Homestead

I was thrilled Rachel Roy reached out to interview me for her author series on her Blog, The Second Time Around Homestead.

Rating: 1 out of 5.
  1. Could not have said it better myself, as a 35 year admitted “IT Phony” with two BS Degrees in Bio-Science…

Just Fake It

From A Summer’s Tempest – An Operator’s Daughter part II

Some weeks ago, during our Tuesday counseling professional development, we were introduced to a new Career Skills Program. This one is an opportunity for transitioning Service Members to learn a highly sought-after set of skills to work in Information Technology. But while I came away impressed with what the 18-week training program offered, I learned about something else too; something highly applicable to myself and many others.

The presenter brought up the concept of Imposter Syndrome: the feeling you don’t belong in your role because you are a phony or fraud, or you are there only because of dumb luck, and at any moment, you could be found out and sent packing. Our presenter told us that overcoming this mindset was critical to success, but it was more difficult than learning those highly sought-after high-tech skills.

What he explained about Imposter Syndrome hit home for me. I feel like I have been faking it my entire life. It was what drove me to push through dyslexia to be placed in the top reading groups during my elementary years, to kick and pull harder to win races in the swimming pool, and to earn nearly all the Girl Scout badges while a Junior Scout. Later, it had me putting all my effort into the news articles and editorials I wrote for the high school newspaper, giving it my all in every job I’ve ever worked from fast food to legal administrative work, to television graphics, to teaching high school, and finally, educational counseling. Perhaps all the above are positives coming out of that feeling of inadequacy. However, it still doesn’t explain why I lack a belief in my own abilities and the faith those around me will recognize I have those abilities.

Despite knowing a solid work ethic is part of my DNA, I still feel like I must prove myself worthy of being in the positions I am in. Yes, it drives me to dig deeper to find the perfect fit in academic programs for those I now serve and to understand how to help maximize the educational benefits they have earned. But despite being in this line of work for a year now, I still feel like I am drinking from a fire hose, and at any moment, I’ll be recognized for what I am; knowing just enough to be dangerous.

Without realizing what Imposter Syndrome was, I had incorporated it, as a motif, into my serial fiction series, An Operator’s Daughter. Frequently, my characters give and take that advice, that sometimes you must fake it until it becomes a habit, and you truly believe you have what it takes to do it, whatever “it” may be.

So, here is my advice to myself, and to you: it is okay to fake it, to give the appearance you know what you are doing, to try, and sometimes get it wrong, fall down, fail, as long as you pick yourself up and keep on trying. Fake it until you see success and feel you belong.

For a reason.

A motif addressed in An Operator’s Daughter, parts I through III, is the concept that things in our lives happen for a reason. It is a concept I have struggled with personally my entire life.

Sometimes I feel I am lacking the faith gene; like my main character, Ashton McAllister, I struggle with faith, whether it is in a higher power or in those around me. I learn from my experiences, and those experiences have led me to go about things cautiously.

This week marks my first year anniversary working as a military contractor at the Stone Education Center on Joint Base Lewis McChord. To begin, it took a leap of faith to put myself up for a position as a substitute instructor in their Basic Skills Education Program—teaching math skills. My subject endorsements are English and Social Studies. Math has never been a strong subject for me. I’ll admit that once I understood those were the skills, I would be primarily teaching, I hit the Internet, YouTube videos, in particular, to recall what I had learned during elementary, middle school, and high school math classes.

As human beings, we learn through our experiences, through trial and error—none of us wish to make too many errors—and through repetition. Doing things correctly, over and over, inscribes those skills on our brains. It was how I was taught, and learned, those basic math skills to begin with and I am grateful for that repetition because those patterns came back to me fairly quickly and I could then instructor the soldiers who were enrolled in the program to increase their own GT scores leading to expanded opportunities for career growth.

That leap of faith on my part took a great deal of courage. I had been beaten down not only by being harassed out of a teaching career I loved and putting my heart and soul into making a difference, but then faced rejection and rejection as I looked for new employment. It hurts to get through the interview process, then being told you are exactly what they were hoping to hire, then have the reference check tank everything—and this happened repeatedly. When the offer of employment finally came from my fabulous supervisor at Indtai, I pinched myself, waiting to hear it would be pulled back. I am ever so grateful it wasn’t.

The opportunities for professional and personal growth with this new employer have restored my faith in myself and those I have the privilege of working alongside. Having recently been moved into a role where I am giving briefings about benefits, counseling service members, their dependents, and veterans on educational opportunities, and even being given the opportunity to start a writing lab to provide support for those wishing to improve their skills while writing application essays, working through research papers, or even writing in Army-style, I feel blessed that I am now in a position where I can serve those who serve our nation.

But did all this happen for a reason? Did I have to go through the heartbreak of giving up my teaching position to land in a place where I am surrounded by the support of others, and those others truly appreciate the support they receive?

Do things, crappy things or happy things, happen for a reason?

I will continue to explore that concept through my serial fiction characters, having faith that others will find strength in the story. As I have written it, I am finding faith in myself.

Managing Expectations.

As I wait for the next season of my serial to go live on Kindle Vella, I deal with conflicting emotions. I am excited to continue the story of my main character as she comes of age, but feel apprehension about its publication.
I continually deal with feelings of inferiority and inadequacy, which lead to anxiety, nearly paralyzing in its attempt to keep me standing still in my personal and professional growth. I continually tell myself I am a new author, new to publishing serial fiction, or any writing whatsoever. I should not be this hard on myself, and I should do what I have coached others to do over the years, to keep trying. But it is hard to look over the statistics of reads on my Amazon Kindle Vella dashboard, and not become discouraged. I suppose I have the unrealistic expectation of others who know me, who provided verbal or posted encouragement, would actually give reading my efforts a go—as those first three episodes on Kindle Vella are free to all readers, and Amazon provides another 200 free tokens to get readings into the serials.
Yes, I am disappointed in the lack of support, especially from former colleagues… but they did little to reach out to help me while I was struggling before I left teaching. I supposed that is just human nature to abandon others drowning while you concentrate on keeping your own head above the waves.
Honestly, I had such high hopes for gaining readership—especially among those who know me, the real me, the me who throws myself into everything I do with energy and passion for doing things right. As an inexperienced manager in television production, I tried to mentor my employees, pushing for cross-training of skills and providing opportunities for them to use those skills. When I moved from one company to another, I shared about the opportunities within the new employer and several followed me there—I provided excellent recommendations to our boss about their skills and capabilities as I believed in them, and still do.
As an educator, I wrote letters of recommendation to assist my students in gaining admission to the college of their choice or to be awarded scholarships to pay for higher education. I prided myself on never having to fly by the seat of my pants; I never planned one lesson at a time, but units of study and posted those lesson plans by unit so students and their parents knew what was coming as if it was a syllabus for a college course. Funny, this would have made it easy for me to teach during the virtual learning months of the COVID-19 pandemic, but I was driven out of my career before that time came.
Again, I am taking this in a direction that is not productive to staying positive. I need to manage my expectations, as I cannot control others’ actions, but go back to giving myself a pep talk and not wallow in the defeatist attitude which could hold me back from meeting my goals and living my dreams.
So here it goes:
When I began writing, it was to bring about healing, to help me deal with traumatizing experiences, and to move past them. I feel I have done that, and I now have a new job serving others in military educational counseling where if I can just make one difference a day, I can hold my head up, go to sleep feeling like I have accomplished something, which allows me to wake up and put in my best effort each day.
I write for an audience of one, myself, with the hope others will discover it and continue to read and enjoy it as I do re-reading my work. (If that sounds pretentious, it is, so be it. It took me a great deal of courage to publish my work, as there is a great deal of myself and my own experiences within my characters.)
I publish to provide an escape from everyday existence, to enlighten and entertain at the same time. A major theme in my serials is having that mindset to never give up despite the challenges and obstacles life throws at you. I will follow my advice and keep writing and publishing what I write.
Thank you for reading, I sincerely appreciate your support.

Lessons from the past.

Admit it, how many of you who came of age in the 1980s have recalled the film Red Dawn this week?

Released in 1984, the Patrick Swayze thriller had teenagers leading an insurgency against a Russian invasion of America. The film ends with a visit to a monument that pays tribute to the young adults who fought back against aggression. In the end, Americans were victorious, but not until years after the war was brought to a bloody end.

As a former teacher of, and always a student, of history, it pains me that in the twenty-first century human beings have not avoided conflict on the scale of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. It tears at my heart to see husbands and fathers escort their families to a safe border, then return to fight for their homeland. When I see images of Russian convoys wrecked along Ukrainian roadsides, I am cheering for an outcome where people who declared themselves free from Soviet/Russian influence in 1991 are again free from fear and allowed to live their lives in ways that benefit themselves.

In the past decades, we have witnessed the rise of authoritarianism, again, in governments worldwide. Our grandparents—great grandparents, fought against such some 76 years ago. They fought and won, and then we embarked upon a war of ideologies for another 46 years for communism, in most of the world, to fizzle out. Why are we fighting these battles all over again?

To the logical mind, none of this makes sense, not to me. I watch with the rest of the world, those who have access to images broadcast from the scene, helpless to change the outcome, left alone with my thoughts and prayers for people I do not know.

Then it comes to mind the battle cry echoed in that 1984 film: “Wolverines!”

Rise Ukraine! Fight for your home! Know that those who value freedom are with you.

The Art of the Binge

Over the New Year’s holiday weekend, my husband and I began watching the television series “Yellowstone”. We had watched the first two of the prequel series the week prior, and dove into a pastime we had not partaken in since ordering a television series on DVD.

Now the fact we have not really indulged in streaming services prior to now betrays our ages and our lifestyle. Both of us have been more focused on our work for our jobs—his appearing never-ending because he comes home after working a 10-hour day, and then logs right back on to take care of the things a superior, who cannot get herself into the officer before noon, or get anything accomplished before 3 pm, which means work for his technology team after hours—and the employees he supervises are not authorized for overtime, so it falls on him… but I digress. I used to focus on my work after hours, also, when I was a teacher, planning lessons and grading for my overloaded English and social studies classes. Now, in a new line of work, my after-hours efforts are more focused on myself, on my writing, trying to make a name for myself in serial fiction or as a blogger—getting a head start on my second act before reaching retirement age. The television, once I am home, is tuned to news as I multitask to keep up with the goings on of the day or for company while pounding away on the keyboard.

I must admit; I felt guilt over the indulgence of watching the drama episode after episode. I have been conditioned over my lifetime to wait to watch until a specific night and time to follow a series. While living in the dorm during college, my roommates and I scheduled our classes to get our daily fix of “All My Children” and huddled in front of the small TV in our common area to watch “Dynasty” on Wednesday evenings together over bowls of air-popped popcorn sprinkled lightly with artificial buttery topping.

However, when I have the time to read a book, I often will consume it in a single setting, foregoing sleep to finish it. Somehow, there is no guilt associated with this practice; it has been my normal since I was a child where there was usually a flashlight tucked away under my pillow to hide my appetite for a good story from my parents’ concerned eyes.

As a new writer of serial fiction—episodes released one, or a few, at a time, I’ve also become a fan of the work of other writers on the site Kindle Vella. The episodes fill the space of a lunch break, filling that same space the Soap Opera used to fill, transporting me to another time or place beyond the break room’s walls.

While it wasn’t my goal when I first began writing my story to make it an episodic drama, I look forward to creating and releasing the next events of my main character’s fictional life. Through her, I address my own worries and fears, overcome life’s challenges, finding joy and healing.

I invite you to try the escape of a good drama when you get, or need, a break; while I would be ecstatic if it was my own, there is something for everyone’s fix on Kindle Vella.

Thank you for reading!

#serial fiction #binge reading #KindleVella #escape

The Power of a Positive Greeting

“Welcome to American’s Joint Base, Ma’am!”

It is the standard greeting I receive every morning when I drive through the gates at Joint Base Lewis McChord on my way to my job at the Stone Education Center. I realize that it’s the soldier’s assignment to man the gates; turn around those who shouldn’t enter, refer those who have a need to be on base but need to check-in with the visitor’s center first to go in the proper direction, and provide a deterrent to those who may wish to do others harm, but this positive greeting sets the tone for a productive day for myself, and I’m certain, for others.

No matter the weather, and this past week it has been below freezing conditions, no matter how many are in the queue waiting to get through the gate, no matter how their scanning equipment is functioning, these soldiers put enthusiasm into their brief interactions with those funneling through on their way to their roles on base. My own “good morning” to them, as I present my identification, is returned with warm smiles in their eyes (yes, the mask mandate hides the ones on their lips). Their greetings, outgoing and professional, demonstrate their commitment and pride in their service. It provides an extra incentive to do my upmost to follow their leads, to greet those who approach the ACES counseling desk with matching positivity, while providing support in reaching their educational goals.

My challenge to you, is to put that same effort into your own initial interactions with others. Make your greetings the kind that encourages those you meet to have their best day possible. Positivity is contagious, and those soldiers on gate duty at JBLM prove it each and every day.

Enough to be Dangerous…

30 November 2021

I am a work in progress.

Always willing to give it a go, I often dive in without really knowing, or feeling confident about, what I am doing. Whether it was the first time I volunteered to operate a character generator for a television newscast, write, direct, produce for a sports magazine show at a thoroughbred racing facility, or now writing serial fiction (without a net…or an editor), I tend to dive right in.

Again, I am work in progress.